Since 1973 the Transport Studies Unit has established an international research reputation in transport research.

Based within the world-leading School of Geography and the Environment at the University of Oxford, the TSU approaches global transport challenges from social science and holistic perspectives. This approach allows TSU researchers to ask questions that might not be asked in other sectors, building a comprehensive picture of the complex challenges facing transport today and in the future. Our position within Geography and the University fosters interdisciplinary collaboration with researchers in other parts of the University and based elsewhere.

A unit of interdisciplinary experts

From geography to sociology, urban studies to economics, and beyond, the TSU draws on the latest relevant developments in various disciplines and research fields.

Our core team of researchers come from various disciplinary backgrounds, bringing with them a range of insight and expertise which enriches our research practice.

Outside Oxford the TSU works in partnership with colleagues in many UK universities, and has very active and well-established links with universities and research institutes across the EU, North America, Asia and increasingly Africa and Latin America.

The TSU researchers also work with partners from government and the corporate sector, for instance to monitor and evaluate technological innovations or to develop new forms of governing urban transport systems.

The TSU has an excellent track record in collaborative projects and is keen to develop new partnerships with research groups and funding agencies. We are always developing projects and ideas for future research.

Please get in touch at if you would like to discuss any projects or collaborations with us.

Outreach and Impact

The TSU undertakes a range of other outreach activities targeted at local, national and international policy-makers, firms and corporations, as well as NGOs and other third sector organisations. Many of these activities are built into our research projects and include conferences, workshops, seminars, policy reports and policy briefings.

Some of our recent projects have had an impact on public policy and debate both locally in Oxfordshire and internationally.

Research Agenda 2020-2025

TSU Research Agenda 2020-2025

For information on our current and future research, please see our Research Agenda:

Annual Report

Annual Report 2020: How we've moved forwards in pictures, words, facts and figures

TSU Annual Report 2020
  • Message from the Director
  • COVID Challenges: Navigating transport studies during a global pandemic
  • Executive Education: TSU's first fully online course, exploring new ways for co-learning and reimagining the future of transport across 25 different countries
  • Research: Research highlights from the past year and a look at our new projects
  • Timeline: A summary of TSU activities and events from 2020

Alternative formats are available on request from

Message from the Director

Professor Tim Schwanen

Who would have thought at the start of 2020 that the most common conversations about transport among researchers and other professionals were going to be about lockdowns and the opportunity for change in existing systems that a global pandemic offers? At the Transport Studies Unit we have actively participated in those conversations through new research activities, our executive education programme, discussions with policy-makers, and interviews by journalists.

Internally, however, we have spoken most about the consequences of the pandemic for our research activities. As you can read in the pages that follow, several projects have incurred significant delays because face-to-face interactions with research participants were impossible, travel was prohibited, and equipment at the centre of the research, such as electric vehicle chargers, could not be installed. And it was not only the TSU staff who were affected; several DPhil students had to postpone, interrupt or radically adapt their original data collection plans. While the arrival of the first vaccines bodes well, it is unclear if and when everyone can resume or commence fieldwork activities and travel to research sites and conferences in 2021.

At the same time, it is clear that the TSU has achieved a lot in the past year. In a short space of time we have developed a completely new executive education course on urban mobility after COVID-19, and this has provided an effective format for how we might offer more online courses in the future. In addition, many research projects focused on places across the planet have progressed apace, and you can read of some of these in our 2020 Annual Report.

Despite all the challenges, TSU staff and students have shown extraordinary resilience and commitment in 2020. It has been a privilege to work with them and I am confident that together we will navigate ongoing and new uncertainties going forwards.

Tim Schwanen, Professor of Transport Studies and Geography

"The COVID-19 pandemic may be a decisive turning point in our journey towards better, less polluting, healthier transport systems. But the longer it goes on, the more likely it is that we end up with short-term focused policies that lock in carbon-intensive transport at a time when the planet needs them the least. In this context, TSU's mission to inspire and inform change towards a more sustainable, just and accessible transport system has never felt more pertinent or urgent." Tim Schwanen, 2020

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